Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

no fastidious notions about “female modesty and decorum," no idea of being such a subordinate, as a married woman, that she could not adopt the same means to acquire her liberty as would her husband. If we are to“ remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them,” why should not her fellow-woman on her behalf, as her representative, use every means to gain the slave woman's liberty, as would be morally right for man under the same circumstances.

Women are not exempt from duty; they have to stand in judgment at that great day, to receive the sentence of “Come, ye blessed,” or the appalling reverse, “ Depart, ye cursed, I was in prison, and ye did not minister unto me." It would be no excuse to say, that it would have been a “violation of the customs of society, and a breach of female modesty and decorum; and it would have had a "deleterious, disorganizing tendency,” for women to have visited prisons, or to devise means that the captive might go free. That was only men's duty. The women of the generation when Christ appeared on earth, would rise up in judgment against the women of this generation, were they to advance such opinions.

Many women will have their names enrolled as benefactors of mankind, whether men will or not, for their agency in the momentous reformation which is now in progress in the world, the abolition of slavery.

Bonaparte had a significant maxim, to wit, “the tools to them that can use them.” Women have given ample demonstration, that they can use the appropriate tools, and will not lose by compassion with male workmen. Female eloquence has made slavery rock on its basis; and all thrones that are not stayed, as are the thrones of the house of David, are feeling the mighty earthquake shock!

Many women have contributed very much to the antislavery cause by their writings. Elizabeth Herrick was the first who enlightened the great and good Wilberforce on the duty and practicability of immediate emancipation, and many women in our own country have promoted the cause much by their writings. Men are more willing to concede to women the use of the pen than the rostrum. For our part, we cannot see why they may not speak what they can write. We have consulted some able casuists on the subject, and they could give no reason against it. If it is presumptuous for a woman to speak publicly, it is more presumptuous for her to write for the public, as speaking is generally more ephemeral in its effects than writing.

The present state of the world appears strongly to indicate that women will be reinstated in their former conspicuous standing, as “corner-stones” in the buildings of both church and state. Although those who are “ builders may plot and league to reject these corner-stones, yet He that sits in heaven will laugh” at their puny efforts. Women are rising in mental elevation, as on eagle's wings, and also increasing in moral strength. As it respects the male part of the community, tyranny on the one hand, and insubordination on the other, seems for some time past to have been the order of the day. The mobocratic spirit has prevailed to an alarming extent in different sections of the country; great fears have been expressed, that, if women were permitted to be active members in promiscuous, moral, or philanthropic societies, it would have a " disorganizing, revolutionary tendency,” and would produce a state of misrule, confusion, and anarchy, so that society would return to its original elements. We have not witnessed any of these deleterious, disorganizing effects from women sitting on committees, originating, debating, or voting on questions which would come before societies of this character. These direful apprehensions appear to have been spectres of disordered imaginations, and promptings of guilty consciences. We have not heard of even a mob composed of women. Women appear to be destined to stand in the breach and be peacemakers. The necessity and utility of female education are awakening the energies of the community. A “ learned lady” is no longer an epithet of reproach. Our female seminaries are rapidly increasing in number and respectability. The public manner in which their examinations are conducted, is fast preparing the public mind for women to appear on the stage of action as public speakers. It would be difficult, nay, impossible, to persuade people that the exercise of the gift of speech and intellect, which is the “ glory” of the human family, is a shame for women.

CHAPTER XII.

THE DELETERIOUS INFLUENCE OF WOMAN OCCUPYING AN UN

SCRIPTURAL POSITION IN THE HUMAN FAMILY.

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Ecc. vii. 29.

The idea of man's supremacy, as a human being, is among the “ many inventions” he has sought out since his fall, and has been a prolific source of calamity, involving us in many wild vagaries. Polygamy, and a host of other evils, bave been visited on the human family in consequence of this absurd opinion. Under it a great portion of the rational creation has “groaned, being burdened.”

Instead of all standing on the same platform, and being governed by the same code of ethics, we have our male and female morality-our male and female Christian gracesour men's rights, which are called human rights, and then “woman's rights,” an unsettled code. Scarcely two of those who profess to be the constituted exponents of the divine law agree in opinion as to what these rights are; they contradict themselves and one another. However, it is generally admitted by all who have thought on the question, that woman does not occupy her true position in the human family. It must be plain to any person of ordinary intelligence, that if one half of the human family occupy a wrong position, this must have a highly pernicious bearing or influence on the mass. A malformation in the original structure of any organization must necessarily subvert its successful operations.

What is the reason, when a thing is so manifestly wrong, that some do not try to make it right? One reason, we suppose, is, we have been so long accustomed to see women deprived of the rights of humanity that it ceases to attract our attention, or move our sympathy. A great many will acknowledge, abstractly, that women do not enjoy their rights, but when any amendment is proposed, they fly the course, and begin to justify women's deprivation of rights from the Bible! A second reason is, women's deprivation of rights has been sanctioned and sanctified for centuries by political enactments, and moral and ecclesiastical teachings. Man is wedded to hoary dogmas and established customs, and is more disposed to suffer their evil results, as long as they are at all sufferable, than abolish them, or desire a change, particularly if they minister to his love of dominion or arbitrary power. He is more conspicuous for self-esteem and a love of dominion than for a sense of justice. We suppose these are among the prominent reasons, on the part of man, why woman has so long occupied a false position, and has been deprived of so many of the rights of humanity. Women prolong their own bondage by tamely submitting to the yoke, like Issachar of old, “they see rest is good, and they bow their shoulder to bondage.” This is a very convenient way to ward off responsibility-if they had the rights of humanity, they would also have the duties of humanity.

We pledged ourselves, at the commencement of this work, to show that this husbandly authority, or rather aristocracy of sex, unites in itself a claim to the same authority as popery, domestic slavery, and political despotism, with some modifications; and lays claim to greater reverence and authority than all the three combined. And from what we have said in the course of this discussion we think we have fully substantiated these charges.

Even this so called free government of the United States, as at present administered, is nothing but a political hereditary despotism to women. They have no instrumentality whatever in making the laws by which they are governed, while their property is taxed without representation. If the “ legitimate powers of government come from the consent of the governed,” then is the government of these United States an unlawful government to women.

Women are treated as aliens in the commonwealth, en masse. This is their best condition, but if married, are oppressed by class legislation; and the laws that govern the wife are the same in kind that govern the slave, or human brute. We have already given a summary of those laws, nevertheless we will here take the liberty of running the parallel between the laws which govern the wife and the slave, for the purpose of showing that our charge is not unfounded.

Like the slave, she can make no legal contracts. If the wife be injured in her person or property, she can bring no action for redress in her own name; she can neither sue nor be sued without her husband being a party. A slave cannot bring suit against any person for an injury, his master must bring it. If damages are recovered, the master pockets it; in case of the wife, the husband does the same. A wife can be indicted and punished for a criminal act the same as any other person; but she is excused from punishment for burglary or theft, if committed in the dread presence of her husband, or by his command. Thus, tacitly, admission is made that the husband's commands are of greater authority than those of the great Jehovah, who has said, “Thou shalt not steal.” This is demonstration that the law regards the moral being of the wife as sunk, and her will completely surrendered to her husband. She is regarded no longer as a free moral agent. This is demoralizing in the extremeit has paved the way for such an opinion as we have already alluded to, “that the wife owes a greater duty to her husband than to her God.” If the wife commits a wrong under actual restraint, let her be treated as the law treats other human beings under the same circumstances. A wife, like a slave, can make no legal will; she has no legal right to property, real or personal, in her husband's lifetime, not even to her own earnings. The legacies of friends, in point of law, belong to her husband in most of the states of the confederacy, and we believe in all, with the exception of one, till very recently. The husband can exact the personal labour of the wife, and pocket her earnings, the law will protect him from interference; so she is a slave in kind, not owning her bones and muscles, or their product. The slave may be punished at his master's discretion, without trial-so may the wife. “The law allows of salutary correction and restraint to the wife in case of gross misbebaviour.” The husband may lock her up in a closet, he may bind her with cords, and if she resist and oppose his lordly authority and brute force, he may even maim her; for the right to coerce implies that he may use all the force necessary to accomplish his lawful design.*

* Supposing the wife wishes to go to worship God, and the husband were opposed to it. Perhaps he is a papist, she a protestant; he thinks all protestants are heretics, and that there is no salvation out of the pale

« FöregåendeFortsätt »